Abraham is considered the father of the Arabs through Hagar, the mother of Ishmael. Suicide bombings, honor killings, murder of innocent men, women and children…these people don’t think like we do! We are all products of our belief system or worldview and those raised as radical Muslims are no exception. Christian denominations debate and draw lines of fellowship but they are not shooting and bombing one another. Sunnis hate the Shias and both of them hate us. Why? I don’t know all the answers, but Genesis 16 predicted the nature of the progeny of Hagar (the Arabs, in whose culture Islam came to be):
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers”(Genesis 16:11,12)
That is why our nation-building adventures in the Middle East are so misguided and ill-advised. The Arabs and those influenced by Arab culture will never be subjugated or altered by those from Western cultures, notably Christian cultures.[i]
We have no business putting our soldiers on the ground in any Islamic country. Read your history! It has never worked and never will. Iraq is a prime example and Afghanistan will soon be. When we leave one of these hell-holes they revert back to some sort of lawless wastelands of violence they were previously.
Now we are being tempted to intervene in yet another Middle Eastern conflict in Syria. The carnage there horrifies the West. As the self-appointed policemen of the world, we think, “We must do something to stop this!” But now, word has it that Syrian rebels slaughtered groups of Christians until stopped by the Syrian loyalists. If that is true, do we want to help the rebels come to power? Will the new boss be the same (or worse than) the old boss?
I recently asked a career military man what we should do in the Middle East and he immediately began discussing weapons systems and military strategy. It was psychologist Abraham Maslow who wisely observed, “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People cannot be changed without a change in worldview. The only way I know to change a person’s worldview is to cease hammering and introduce them to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. And, the only way I know to introduce people to Jesus Christ is to imitate Him. And, the only way I know to imitate Him is to love our enemies. And, the only way I know to love our enemies is to pray for them and do them good, not evil (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:27; I Thessalonians 5:15).
If we spent as much time, resources and energy seeking to win the hearts and minds of our enemies as we have on violent “shock and awe;”…if we sent our young men and women on missions of peace instead of war, we would rob terrorists of their leverage. I have to believe that we can overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Would that cost lives? Without a doubt. But they would be lives given in the only strategy that will ever be effective in bringing peace and stability to this dark, violent and troubled region.
[i] I am using “Christian” in the broadest sense of the term and as a social construct as much or more than a religious one. “Us” are Christians and “them” are those under the influence of radical (violent) Islam.